By Col. Mark Harris, MD, Regional Health Command-AtlanticJanuary 29, 2016
Eighty percent of patients with Zika virus never develop symptoms. Twenty percent develop fever, rash, muscle aches, and joint pain lasting about one week. More serious complications are very rare. Many fear that Zika infection might be associated with birth defects. More study is needed, but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that pregnant women consider postponing trips to countries where Zika virus is being locally transmitted, such as Central America and northern and central South America.
Treatment for Zika virus includes controlling pain and fever, good fluid intake, and rest. Other medications including antibiotics are not effective and there is no vaccine. People can reduce their chance of becoming infected with good mosquito protection: (http://www.cdc.gov/zika/disease-qa.html):
•Wear long-sleeved shirts and long pants.
•Stay in places with air conditioning or that use window and door screens to keep mosquitoes outside.
•Use Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) registered insect repellents. All EPA- registered insect repellents are evaluated for safety and effectiveness.
◦Always follow the product label instructions
◦Reapply insect repellent every few hours.
◦Do not spray repellent on the skin under clothing.
◦If you are also using sunscreen, apply sunscreen before applying insect repellent.
•If you have a baby or child:
◦Do not use insect repellent on babies younger than 2 months of age.
◦Dress your child in clothing that covers arms and legs, or
◦Cover crib, stroller, and baby carrier with mosquito netting.
◦Do not apply insect repellent onto a child's hands, eyes, mouth, and cut or irritated skin.
◦Adults: Spray insect repellent onto your hands and then apply to a child's face.
•Treat clothing and gear with permethrin or purchase permethrin-treated items.
◦Treated clothing remains protective after multiple washings. See product information to learn how long the protection will last.
◦If treating items yourself, follow the product instructions carefully.
◦Do NOT use permethrin products directly on skin. They are intended to treat clothing.
•Sleep under a mosquito bed net if you are overseas or outside and are not able to protect yourself from mosquito bites.
The recent outbreak of Zika virus is a genuine concern. However, by taking a few simple precautions, Soldiers and Families can protect themselves.